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This 91 message thread spans 4 pages: 91 ( [1] 2 3 4 > >     
Google AdSense Guidelines: Now Dislikes Blending Ads Like Your Content
lots of sites are going to get warnings....

 4:43 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

1. Ads shouldn't be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies that the ads are not ads.

2. Ads should be easily distinguishable from surrounding content.


[edited by: engine at 4:23 pm (utc) on Mar. 28, 2008]
[edit reason] added quote and permalink [/edit]



 6:29 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is a major change.

Many webmasters will have to rework their sites.


 7:10 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I already start doing it!


 7:11 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

"...we recommend using a different color for the ad titles or indenting the ad unit to help distinguish the ads from your own content."

Well, it's only the opposite of the previous guideline ;-D

Problem is, where do you draw the line, I mean, what is different enough?


 7:28 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Looking at the examples they provided, they clearly are against the MFA type of layouts where they push the ads as if it was the content of the page, not complementing it.

I doubt quality sites, where ads have the same background color as the rest of the page, would be in trouble.


 10:15 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

So Google are ready to take another hit in revenues? They took the first hit when they missed Q4 results and explained this with the change in clickable area. Now they make another, even more drastic, change in favor of user experience (hurting their short-term revenue). So I guess they are going to miss Q1 and Q2 expectations as well. At least they have another good reason by then. ;-)

As a side note, I love that they finally (claim to) address this issue, but I am sceptic whether they actually enforce this.


 11:00 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

These are just recommendations for optimization, if it's anything like the optimization reports we see in our adsense accounts now and again then I am staying well away. Last time I took notice of their suggestions my earnings dropped drastically.


 11:13 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

A couple of observations...

The first is that the blending in these examples both place ads where a typical user might be expecting to see content (for example, immediately below the title).

Second, I'm thinking Google itself used to be in violation with these guidelines (sponsor results below the search box). Certainly sites like Ask and AOL seem to be in violation.


 11:16 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

"These are just recommendations for optimization"

No, they are Guidelines.

Pls read the blog post carefully..right at the start.

"To support this, we'd like to remind you of the following two guidelines when optimizing your site."


 11:33 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I stand corrected Green_Grass:)


 1:55 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've wondered in the past why Google has been so lackadaisical about the use of titles above ad blocks, where the site owner is ostensibly titling content below the ads but (whether or not the publisher's motives are pure) the title appears to relate to the ads. (If that's unclear, see the first example provided by Google.)

From what I've seen in the past, I don't think this type of clarification hurts Google's bottom line. Preventing accidental clicks on ad blocks across the board, by reducing the clickable area of a text ad? Yes, that seemed to give them short term pain (but should help with long-term credibility). But they've been implementing rules like this (or, in some cases, suddenly enforcing what seems to me to be a common sense interpretation of their guidelines) from the start without any observable impact on their revenues.

The cynical side of me might argue that they hold off on implementing this type of restriction until they are reasonably confident that they have enough opportunities for impressions that the reduction in clicks resulting from enforcement of the guidelines will be offset by a similar number of clicks on compliant sites. Fortunately, I'm not cynical so I would never suggest such a thing.


 2:03 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't see this as about-face--as others have said, it's clarification. Blending in the past--and in some of the Help pages you can still find--was talked about in VERY general terms, along the lines of "Use your site colors so people don't ignore the ads."

That still holds true. What they are saying now is that ads must not be set up in an identical manner to content or navigation--yes, you want visitors to look at them, but not to confuse them with site content.

I would think that most site owners already comply with these guidelines, which I think are a WELCOME clarification. We now have some much more specific guidance as to what is OK and what is not.


 2:04 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wow. I can't believe publishers actually designed their sites like that.

Google has to take the blame, too. It puts the Ads by Google out of sight at the bottom of the ad block [bp0.blogger.com]. See this example [bp3.blogger.com], too.

If they were at the top, it wouldn't be putting out this notice!

Blending ads without an advertising notice at the top in plain view--the advertising industry standard--is inherently deceptive.

Every ad block, not just a few, needs the notice at the top.

Ads by Google

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 2:20 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Agree with potentialgeek. Actually I have seen ads that do not even show that they are Ads by Google.


 2:23 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yeah I see no major change. I think they are more clarifying that blending is fine to a point. I think this is more against MASKING the ads to look like content.


 2:40 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sigh..... I hope they send this little note to their strategist/optimization team so everyone at AdSense tells publishers the same story.


 2:41 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

There are tons of sites on top of the SERPS with this kind of masking ( blending). So I think it a major initiative by Google. I have regularly experienced this stuff on the web. I am sure many have. And I am sure many webmasters even on this forum, do this in some degree or other..


 2:45 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sigh..... I hope they send this little note to their strategist/optimization team so everyone at AdSense tells publishers the same story.

I already did with mine after he commented on one ad located on a popular page. I removed the ad immediately. Mine was not that blended, however I prefer my visitors understand that are clicking on an ad.


 3:05 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am with you there ken_b, I actually have screenshots my rep sent me a few years ago with examples that closely match what they are now telling us NOT to do.

I cleared our current ad implementations last year with our rep but I guess I am going to have to reclear them as "blending" is now being frowned upon.


 3:33 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

This doesn't seem to be a big deal to me - just a reminder of existing guidelines / policies. I guess different things come to mind for different people when the word "blending" is used.

However, considering all the junk ads that appear on AdSense, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at this:

As you can imagine, users who click on ads that they think are publisher-created content may lose trust in your site and decide not to return in the future. It's important to keep their interests in mind, as well as your own.

Also, the AdSense blog recently announced a site as a contest winner for commendable use of AdSense. The site had ads very similar to the example No. 2 which purports to show a site that does not follow the guidelines.



 7:17 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wish they would just come out with some type of remote ad management program, this way, I could grant them access to my server and have them place and manage my ads for me :)


 8:10 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I always titled my ads "sponsored links" as I never tried to trick visitors into clicking so I'm not terribly concerned for my sites.

I was always of the opinion that blending too tight, like Google's examples, was akin to enticing click fraud IMO and it was just a matter of time before the shoe dropped when the advertisers discovered the high bounce rate of visitors tricked to click.


 8:30 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have always made my ads stand out. I never tried to blend them at all. I wanted people that clicked the ads to be people that were interested in the ad, thus no smart pricing, no doubt that they were clicking on ads. I even put a double border around them -- on my most popular web page -- so it was painfully obvious that they were ads.



 9:08 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well done Big G on this one. Discussion on this forum has already determined that keeping advertisers in the money might result in an increased share for publishers.

Glad this detail (publishers not trying to trick people into clicking ads) has started to be highlighted. It's another good step towards persuading advertisers that there are some in the content network that might like to work with them. With much more of the same we might even persuade them not to turn the content network off by default.


 9:25 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

large publishers are allowed to dipslay google ads.... without the "ads by Google" warning. They can even remove underlining of links and change fonts.

[edited by: martinibuster at 11:20 pm (utc) on Mar. 28, 2008]
[edit reason] Removed specifics. [/edit]


 10:16 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

First, it is DECEPTIVE and I lose 99% of the respect when sites try to trick me into clicking an ad, either by "blending" or by placing 4-5 block on top, before the content is shown. Google, should have done this since the beginning. It is the only long term way to operate, but shareholders got used to 50% increase in earnings per quarter and this (despite being the ethical way to do it) will hurt growth once again. Lately, people have gone insane, flooding their pages with ads, no wonder people ignore them.

See below article:

Google's sluggish performance is being attributed to several factors. The more common explanations are Google's move to crack down on both fraudulent and accidental clicks. Catching bogus clicks early and policing accordingly is good. Narrowing the clickable link window within ads to make sure mostly interested visitors go through is honorable. However, what if the problem is deeper than that? What if ad blindness is kicking in, with greater reluctance to click through on Google's paid search ads?

We saw this happen with banner ads in the mid-90s. They were all the rage at first, until Web users began to disregard them. Google's paid search ads are superior, especially with the dot-com giant's ability to target ads relevant to both the content and user, but no one said the party would last forever.


Something is happening: the king of content, CNET is suffering, and Answer.com, despite the tons of traffic and articles is not even making $3 million a quarter.


 11:03 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wasn't there just a thread where major sites like EPSN were saying they are pulling out of Adsense because of less quality ads?

walkman, it has been happening, I agree with you. IMHO Adsense is an excellent ad platform, however it will slowly become bottom of the barrel for bigger better publishers. Because if you are good, you sould be able to attract direct advertisers at multiples of what Adsense is paying you. I am sure big players already understood that. Formula to this is simple "Just charge a multiple of 2 or 3 from what Adsense pays you for that ad spot".

Interesting times.


 11:03 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

To me blending an advert can mean two things

1) blending the colours used in the advert to it matches the colour scheme of the page though by placing the advert in a div and giving it a clear border of a few px so it is obvious its separate from the page document

2) blending were it is something I would call blatant blending i.e in the example were it is trying to pass off the adverts as being part of the document, not separate.

Personally I dont want to make my adverts stand out, while I do want to earn money, I want my pages to look easy to the eye and readable as well as providing some value, I do use the same colour scheme as my page for the ad colours, but I do make them separate by means of a clear border so its obvious they are not my content.


 11:47 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I hope that google gives us a time so that we can adapt our site to this change.


 1:13 am on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

At the risk of getting pinged adding a link.... heres one anyway.

Got to www.google.com

do a search

On my laptop screen, the light blue background for the top paid ads is not visible.

The "sponsored ads" message is right over on the right hand side and I would not normally look there.

It seems to me this is an attempt to make the surfer believe these are premium, featured, best results.... not paid listings not worthy of a top ranking.

As a webmaster, I know these links are sponsored, but studies show around 50% of general web surfers don't.

They do not meet googles own guidelines, coming before the real content that the surfer was looking for.

Can we assume then if its ok by google, it must be ok for publishers to make this this slight difference... which in reality will make the google ads appear to be premium, featured listings?

This 91 message thread spans 4 pages: 91 ( [1] 2 3 4 > >
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